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ADA Compliancy: Be prepared or beware [IBM]

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on November 15, 2010

Would any serious business knowingly ignore 10% of its prospects or customers? You’d think not. But the fact is more than 10% of the online population has a disability – that’s 750 million people worldwide and 55 million Americans. And while it may seem like a no-brainer to ensure websites are accessible to this huge audience, a lot of organizations – either through ignorance or indifference – have not made catering to this vast group a priority.

Case in point: Target, which in 2008 agreed to a $6 million class action settlement after the retail giant was sued by a blind advocacy group had alleged its website was inaccessible to the blind and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

That’s likely to happen a lot more as the US Department of Justice actively pursues companies and organizations out of compliance with ADA, like Section 508, which establishes requirements for any electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the federal government.

In response, more and more human resources departments are sounding the alarm bell in an effort to accommodate ADA concerns and avoid a negative impact on their organizations – like loss of customers, avoidance of lawsuits and harm to overall brand image. Unfortunately, they sometimes come face to face with IT staff occupied with other pressing concerns and web developers who have never had to make ADA compliance a standard part of their development cycle.

Two interrelated hurdles to ADA compliance are, not surprisingly, time and cost – both of which run high when compliance testing is done manually. But a lot of the pain IT professionals feel when dealing with compliance can be easily avoided with two relatively simple steps:

  1. Incorporate ADA testing early on in the software development lifecycle, rather than leaving it as an afterthought. It can save time and reduce the hidden cost of testing, catching and fixing compliance issues later.
  2. Choose an automated compliance testing solution – for instance, IBM Rational Policy Tester® Accessibility Edition – that can help further reduce costs by auditing and monitoring a slew of accessibility checks.

If you’re not sure whether ADA compliance is something your organization needs to worry about, these Top 10 Mistakes about ADA compliance are a helpful place to start.

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